Los Bandidos del Arte present the inaugural piece in a series that features exclusive interviews with key players in the Miami art scene. We intend to offer an intimate portrait of the perspectives these individuals offer their craft and to showcase the particular impact that they have here in Miami.
For our very first interview, we sat down with curator and gallerist Mindy Solomon at her gallery, which she warmly refers to as her “little corner of the universe” in Little River.
It’s the Wednesday before the opening reception for the Geandy Pavón: Political Fold & José Manuel Mesías: About the Absolute Truth exhibition at the Mindy Solomon Gallery. Some pieces have already arrived while others are streaming through the door. Mindy is in contemplation with one artist regarding placement of the paintings within the gallery. Their voices echo off of the white walls as they dance around the narrative context of the work, as well as aesthetic and the conceptual considerations. And before this interview and without a single question being asked, Mindy Solomon’s dedication to and flair for her craft were made apparent.
Mindy Solomon’s inclination towards art is overwhelmingly intrinsic since, as she puts it, she was a “little toddler weirdo.” She exudes a warm, if not bubbly, excitement as she describes books like “Mindy’s World of Fashion” that she composed as a child. Most in the art world would describe themselves as visual people but for Mindy this connection to the visual world is something that allows her to experience life on a much more intense level: “I see the world through a visual lens; it keeps me optimistic… It’s a sense of enjoying everything like, ‘Look! That pattern on the concrete sidewalk is kind of cool!,'” she exclaims.
The conversation quickly turns towards curation where Mindy offered a personal anecdote. “I’m very particular, like my husband always jokes that I send cocktails back--a lot,” she chuckles. But on a serious note, she is able to define curatorial skills and “good editing” as one and the same. As Mindy puts it, “there are just so many things that you really don’t need.”
For Mindy, the skills and process involved in curating are by no means stagnant. In her experience, how she curates can evolve as life evolves. She credits being informed by her peers and a Miami energy and aesthetic for the continued evolution of her practice. Mindy continues to hone her craft by taking recommendations from those that she knows and respects. Additionally, she stays abreast of the scene by reading periodicals and through social media, although she readily admits to staying away from “trends” when she curates shows.
Although her love of ceramics and objects is apparent, Mindy loves anything that genuinely resonates with her. As such, the Mindy Solomon Gallery displays an array of art from sculpture to painting and photography to video. More specifically, Mindy sheds a little more light on what strikes a chord for her: “Humor and irony are things that I like. Finding things that are authentic, things that feel authentic and fresh,” she says. Her background in teaching also lends itself to her being keen on craftsmanship and the consistency of fabrication and finish in the works that she shows.
While Mindy could recall that she has always been involved in art, both teaching and collecting the stuff, her journey as a gallerist and curator started at her first gallery in St. Petersburg, a thriving art center for that part of Florida. However, after spending 4 years in that space she began to feel a bit isolated professionally. She seriously looked at a potential move to NYC but found it to be too impractical with her family being based in Florida. As luck would have it, she settled on a space in Wynwood where she spent 2 years before being one of the first galleries to relocate to the Little River Art District.
As rising rents facilitated a trend that saw many galleries fleeing Wynwood for the “greener pastures” of Little River and Little Haiti one could truly consider the Mindy Solomon Gallery as one of the pioneering spaces in the neighborhood. However, it is only in hindsight that Mindy would consider herself a trailblazer. At the time she merely felt that relocating wasn’t that big of a deal; there wasn’t such a tremendous amount of foot traffic in Wynwood that she felt that she’d be missing out on. While she admits the Little River neighborhood is relatively nascent and will take some time, she just assumed that loyal patrons, collectors and art aficionados alike would make their way to her new space., “If anyone is going to come here, they are just going to come.” She continued, “I would rather have people come in that are truly interested in the work and having those conversations versus a constant flow of people.”
“Miami as a gallery city has nothing but potential, and that’s a nice way to put it,” Mindy states when asked to opine about the Magic City’s developing yet viable art scene. “Miami is special because it has the opportunity to be inclusive,” she continues. However, you get the sense from talking to her that for whatever it is that Miami is possibly lacking can be viewed positively. It’s an evolution heading in the right direction with tons of ripe opportunities. It seems that Miami is well on its way to fostering a newfound culture of collecting. “Miami has such rich, diverse cultural aspects to embrace and be included,” Mindy reflects. She also was clear to express her excitement about the “grassroots creativity”, as she refers to it, of the Little River/Little Haiti neighborhoods; an energy and effort that might get lost in the shuffle of more solidified art cities like New York. Mindy is a self-proclaimed “mama bear” of her current locale as she offers support to a lot of the younger galleries and project spaces popping up around her.
If there were to be one takeaway from the conversation regarding Mindy’s character it would probably be the emphasis that she places on integrity and trust regarding her interaction with artists that she shows or represents specifically, and how she manages the affairs at her gallery, generally. She stresses the importance of honesty and genuine support between the artist and the gallerist. Mindy believes that artists should have absolute faith that the person selling their work believes in them. This sense of integrity also carries over to her role within the art community. As she puts it, “I believe in a community of art dealers that work together. There is a lot of poaching that can go on and I refuse to be a part of that. I like to have the respect of my peers. I really value my integrity; at the end of the day it’s all you’ve got.” Lastly, Mindy feels a moral obligation towards collectors and enthusiasts alike. “I have a client, the public, to answer to [so that they] see artists that really care about their finished art,” she affirms.
I’ll leave it to Mindy to sum it up best: “I don’t necessarily view myself as formidable or anything, but I can go the distance.” Los Bandidos is willing to venture that Miami is ready and waiting to embark on that journey and stay the course with her.
The Mindy Solomon Gallery is located at 8397 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33138.
Open Tues-Sat 11:00am-5:00pm or by appointment.
The current exhibition runs through 13 August 2016.
© Los Bandidos del Arte. 2016.